Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
TWControls

Industrial Informatics - Ron Beaufort's Work

26 posts in this topic

So I was checking out new links HERE and noticed a link had been added to Ron Beauforts Work page. Has anyone looked at the training courses? As soon as things calm down here at work I'm going to look into sending a few of my guys to his Guerrilla Boot Camp. Think about it as excellent as his lessons are here at MrPlc can you imagine how informative his class would be?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm sure his classes are great. Plus, you get your money back if you don't like it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've check into it for myself, once I finish the merger/buyout…I plan on attending myself, I like the fact that you can customize the classes to your needs (boy if Ron only new my needs…he may have second thoughts), I have attended a few Rockwell classes, they were good but they wasted some time covering some stuff that I know I will never use. If he can answer the question there in his class like he can on the web then it would be money well spent for any company.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I went to Ron’s class and it is well worth the money. I have never had any formal training on PLC and just his method of predicting program flow with 1’s and 0’s made the class worth while. Some may already know this stuff but to me it was well worth it and this was just the first day of class. Every night I left class I was mentally drained more so then normal. I highly recommend his class. Hope this helps, Bob O

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Greetings to all, and thank you for the kind compliments ... Edited by Ron Beaufort

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ron - I hope you're not the last of a dying breed. I've spent about 15 yrs informally schooling electricians in PLCs so I can stay off the floor & into designing new machines. Management will never have time to get these guys into a formal class, so I turn every PLC installation/upgrade into a mini class. Teaching thru doing just makes sense to me. After all, we've got a problem to solve (wiring, sensor, process, etc) and a machine to get back on-line. I love it when they have that AHA moment! I know I remember better if I do it than if someone tells me how to do it. Besides, it keeps those 3am emergency calls to a minimum. Keep it up Ron!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What was your experience level before Ron's class? I have some guys with enough computer experience to get around and no PLC experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TWControls, I still think of myself as a novice but I have taught myself [ No one to turn to at work] with a lot of help from this site and Phil’s about RSView32 and have placed 35 plus ML1500 on our network, weight control applications using a 5/03 with the Hardy Waver Saver along with reporting in MS Access for our external customers. I have also done a number of small things around the plant and the vision systems that I am currently installing more of and trying to work with VB. I have been attempting to learn all this since 2003. If my ramblings haven’t answered your question please let me know and I will try again. Hope this helps,Bob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Greetings to all ... first let me explain my "now you see it – now you don't" edits to post #5 ... I always make it a point to read this excellent MrPLC forum at least once or twice a day, so naturally I came across this thread concerning my classes which had been started by TWControls ... I appreciated the compliments and comments from TWControls, Ken Moore, geniusintraining, and Bob O, so I posted a "thank you" note ... and then I went on to continue the general topic of the thread – which, of course, was a discussion of the PLC training classes that I teach ... a day or so later, I got to thinking that perhaps my additional comments could be interpreted as nothing more than self-serving "advertising" ... that was definitely NOT my intention ... throughout all of my postings on this (and on other forums) I've never tried to hide the fact that I do PLC training for a living ... but I've also tried to keep "advertising" in its proper place ... so although no one had said anything to me (either in public or in private) I decided to edit my rather lengthy post and remove everything except the "thank you" note ... since making that edit, I've received a very nice PM from one of the forum administrators who has assured me that my original comments were not really "over-the-advertising-line" but were considered to be just an informational continuation of the topic being discussed ... I sincerely appreciate that ... and with all of that in mind, I'd like to add the following to the discussion ... let's consider designing a PLC training class from the ground up ... for our students, we might decide to target engineers (who specify the PLC equipment to match the requirements of a certain job) ... we might target programmers (who write the ladder logic code for specific applications) ... or we might target all of the maintenance technicians who will eventually work on the machinery controlled by the PLC ... now since we're obviously trying to make a profit by selling this training, where should we concentrate our efforts? ... consider that once the equipment has been specified and installed – and once the program has been written and debugged – then the engineers and the programmers are pretty well out of the picture ... they move on to other projects ... but the maintenance technicians are generally always around ... and from a purely profit-motivated standpoint, consider this: for each single engineer – and for each single programmer – there are several times as many maintenance technicians working in this field ... so by targeting the technicians, we can instantly multiply our pool of potential customers ... and certainly those technicians will need training in order to understand the PLC ... so let's target the technicians as our "mainstream" students ... of course we won't chase the engineers and the programmers away if they happen to show up on our doorstep, but let's design the core material of our training for the maintenance technicians ... now let's set the "broad-brush" objectives of the course ... specifically, what benefit would a student hope to gain by taking this course? ... since we're dealing with maintenance technicians, I'd suggest this: "The primary objective is to minimize equipment downtime by improving each student's knowledge of PLCs and by developing effective troubleshooting and problem-solving skills." and yes, that's "right out of the book" – but frankly I couldn't come up with any other way to say it and still get the same point across ... next let's decide what skills our students will need once they finish the class and return to the plant ... in other words, what specific topics should we teach in order to meet our stated objectives? ... here's a partial (a very partial) list just to continue the discussion ... and this is listed in no particular "priority" order: (1) how to go online with the PLC ... (2) how to interpret the "true" and "false" indications on the ladder display screen ... (3) how to track input signals and output signals through the ladder logic program ... (4) how to force inputs and outputs ... and more importantly, WHEN (and when NOT) to force inputs and outputs ... (5) how to confirm the addresses of field devices when the online documentation is either missing or incorrect ... (6) how to wire inputs and outputs to the PLC – and how to troubleshoot problems in the existing wiring ... (7) how to access fault codes and reset processor faults ... (8) how to download and upload PLC programs ... (9) how to interpret both indirect and indexed addressing ... (10) safety concerns when using latches vs. seal-in techniques ... personally, I'd feel very uncomfortable in deleting any one of these "basic" skills - and this sample list is obviously by NO means complete ... but let's use these for our discussion and move on ... all of these topics that I've just listed are what I personally consider to be "Level 1" skills ... now here are a couple of skills from what I consider to be "Level 2" ... (11) how to process analog signals such as 4 to 20 milliamp inputs and outputs ... (12) how to use math functions to scale those analog signals ... and other topics along the same lines ... now some people might consider these "Level 2" skills to be "advanced" material ... maybe so ... but in some cases the word "advanced" is taken to imply "optional" ... personally, I've got a problem with that ... consider that if a technician is ever required to work with analog signals, then these "advanced/optional" topics quickly - and definitely - become "advanced/required" material for his education ... and now we come to a critical point in our "design-a-course" discussion ... it's tempting to just keep listing more and more "topics" until we feel that we've nailed down all of the basics ... and then we might start gathering up the material that we'd need to present to the students in order to cover all of those topics ... in other words, we could proceed to merely "transfer information" and consider that to be "providing training" ... in my carefully considered opinion, that approach would leave a critical element out of the picture ... take a quick look back at our "course objectives" statement ... what about those "troubleshooting and problem-solving" skills? ... in most (ALL?) of my discussions with plant maintenance managers over the years, this one topic has come up repeatedly (EVERY time?) ... "problem-solving" appears to be a nearly universal short-coming ... now yes, there ARE technicians out there who are GOOD at solving problems ... but for every GOOD problem-solver, there are many, many more technicians who have little or no natural talent for this critical job skill ... managers and supervisors have told me over and over: "Even my workers who KNOW the material can't seem to use it for troubleshooting – simply because they can't THINK their way through a problem by themselves. Can you please teach my people how to THINK?" well, since this seems to be a VERY common need, let's see if we can design our new PLC training course to address it ... how would we go about teaching "problem-solving skills" in a classroom? ... first let's look at how we can NOT do it ... in my carefully considered opinion, you can NOT teach "problem-solving" skills without exposing the students to "problems" ... and going further, you can NOT simply expose the students to problems and expect them to miraculously learn problem-solving skills ... specifically, you've GOT to coach them through a systematic approach to tackling the problem – and then through the steps required to work out a solution ... here's a quick overview of just one method (one out of many) that I personally use for teaching "problem-solving" skills ... first, I present a situation which I've carefully designed to introduce a specific problem ... I make sure that each and every student sees and comprehends the problem ... then I coach the students into recognizing how this particular problem is SIMILAR to other problems that they're already familiar with ... and I also coach them into recognizing how this specific problem is DIFFERENT from other problems ... in other words, I insist that the students "relate" this new problem to concepts with which they are already familiar ... the main objective here is to avoid providing little "stand-alone" pieces of random information ... instead, I want the student to recognize the relationship of one problem to another ... this not only helps with solving the problem at hand, but it also builds and extends a mental framework which helps the student remember the problem – and its solution ... and most importantly, having this "relational framework" will help the student solve additional problems in the future ... after the problem has been fully presented, I start coaching the students through a systematic approach to a solution ... I discourage "hunches" even when they're correct – unless the student has some specific reason for making that particular guess ... in cases where an answer has a 50-50 chance of being correct, I ask pointed "why?" or "why not?" questions to weed out the element of "lucky breaks" ... if this particular exercise involves all of the students in the class, I often go to the classroom whiteboard and sketch a "scoreboard" with each student's name - and I mark down each student's answer for all to see ... students are encouraged (in some cases, forced) to discuss why they think their particular answers are correct ... changing the final "scoreboard" answer is perfectly acceptable (but only right up to the last moment, of course) – and some students can be quite persuasive in talking others into joining their personal point of view ... at times I'll even take a shot at coming up with an answer myself ... in these cases I'm usually playing the "devil's advocate" - and no matter how much "common sense" my arguments might make, the students quickly learn to be very suspicious of my answers ... in this classroom, the instructor is quite frequently "wrong" ... naturally it takes quite a lot of "personality guidance" to keep this part of the proceedings from getting out of hand ... the best classes are those in which all of the students accept the challenge as a type of "game" and join in the friendly competition of seeing "who's-right-and-who's-wrong" ... the class I just finished teaching last week was a common example ... my boss and the guys who work down the hall kept coming over and closing the classroom door ... they said that it sounded more like my students and I were watching the Super Bowl than learning PLCs ... during this "find a solution" phase, it's important to let the students experiment – but only up to a point ... one or two steps in the wrong direction is fine ... anything more means that I have to start coaching the students back "on track" ... once in awhile a student with a strong "I'd-rather-do-it-all-by-myself" personality will consider this "coaching" to be more of an "annoyance" than a help ... the objective though, of course, is to have the student develop a SYSTEMATIC approach to solving the problem – and not allow him to simply "hunt-and-peck" until a solution finally presents itself ... I'll often ask questions such as "why did you go there?" ... the obvious "for-no-particular-reason" answer will usually encourage the student to put more thought into deciding his next logical step toward a solution ... with some "gung-ho" students it becomes a constant challenge to slow them down and force them to concentrate on the "system" of finding a problem ... in many cases, the student just wants to skip ahead and nail down the "answer" ... but in my classes, the "ANSWER" is always secondary to the "SYSTEM" of finding the solution ... here's a quick example: suppose that we're trying to find the reason why the output in the top rung shown below won't turn on ... the answer probably has something to do with the timer T4:0 ... now the student KNOWS for a fact that the TON for T4:0 is located on the very next rung up in his program listing ... he knows this because he entered the program himself yesterday ... so as I watch over his shoulder, the student naturally starts to scroll the screen upward to check on the timer ... STOP ... that's not allowed in this particular exercise ... instead, I make the student right-click and do a "Find All" search on the address T4:0/DN ... this "first step" in the search operation doesn't find the TON for T4:0 (because the search is too restrictive) ... so now I make the student edit the "Quick Search" text box at the top of the screen – and remove the "/DN" bit designator from the original address ... the next "Find All" search finds everything associated with T4:0 – including the TON that we want to check on ... now some students naturally get caught up in the task of "fixing" the problem ... they often find these "extra steps" truly frustrating and consider them to be a big waste of time ... but the point of the exercise is that we won't always be lucky enough to know exactly where the timer is located ... by learning the "system" now, we're making sure that we'll be able to quickly locate the timer in the future – no matter how large and complicated the program listing might be ... so in this exercise – like all of the others – the student is forced to put some "thought" into each step of the process ... this simple little exercise is an important one to a technician who needs to quickly find his way through a complicated program ... but even though the step-by-step "search" procedure is important, it's the "thought" that goes into finding the solution that really makes the exercise worthwhile ... and that "THOUGHT" idea brings us to the single most important concept in the teaching method that I use ... specifically, everything that I do – from start to finish – is intended to keep each and every student constantly THINKING! ... the students aren't just "DOING" – they're being forced to "THINK" about what they're doing ... that one idea marks the major difference between the classes that I teach and many other technical training classes ... and that's precisely my point ... having that on-the-job "problem to solve" in front of them forces your "students" to become actively involved in learning the material ... my biggest concern is that many "off-site" PLC training classes don't seem to incorporate any "problem-solving" skills at all ... instead they seem to concentrate solely on the transfer of raw "here's-how-everything-is-SUPPOSED-to-work" information which the students are expected to somehow miraculously retain – and then instinctively apply to the problems they encounter in the future ... I've run across the satirical phrases "talking-is-teaching" and "listening-is-learning" somewhere in my research ... my experience has shown that this traditional approach to technical training doesn't work very well for most students – particularly for the maintenance technician types who invariably prefer to "learn-by-doing" ... in closing, I'd like to mention that my boss takes care of all of the advertising and marketing issues for my PLC classes ... he's the one who comes up with descriptions like "Guerilla Boot Camp" and other things along those lines ... frankly, I don't have that type of imagination ... if you're anything like me, then you generally don't enjoy being "advertised to" ... but from a realistic viewpoint, if the salesmen don't "sell" then the workers don't "work" – and no one gets paid ... in a way, I have been very hesitant to join the discussion in this particular thread – since any remarks that I make here are likely to appear "close to" - if not "completely over" - the advertising line ... on the other hand, it seems that I should contribute something to the discussion since I obviously have the inside track on what my classes have been designed to accomplish ... I sincerely hope that I've provided enough useful information here - and enough detail – to prevent this post from coming off as simply an effort at empty "advertising" ... if anyone feels that this post is "out-of-line" then please let me know ... I'll be glad to remove it ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
.... Congratulations, you have just been awarded the -longest post on MrPLC.com ever award!- When I find the time I will read it through and be happy to reply. In about a week or so... (whuhaha) Serious now, by the way you write I can tell you have good teaching skills. It reads away just as easy as a good book and I can imagine your courses being very interesting and practical. Too bad my boss won't be happy with an Atlantic ticket under the "expenses" column... I wish this was SPAM!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wow, I thought the post 5 was thorough I will have to agree with PDL . I think that is the longest post I have ever seen on any forum, but it is great information. Now just give me to the end of the week to read it and another few days for it to sink in , then I will be back with questions Thanks for elaborating again Ron

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
WOW!!!....I wish Ron would write a book, I'd buy it,steal it, borrow it or whatever. Great job as usual Ron. Later...Todd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
you mean he didn't write any book yet? after so many long posts here? in time somebody is going to compile his existing posts...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Forget books, someone needs to perfect the cloning process and sell Ron clones. Of course, all the rest of us would be out of a job the next day!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ron, firstly thank-you for your numerous contributions to the forum. I enjoy the reading and the education from them. I read your original posting #5 and this one, as always it is clear that that you have a passion for educating others and more importantly teaching one to think and do. The ability to teach a student self reliance and the thinking process is unfortuanatley rare in a mentor. I am seeing a lot of the old guard retirring from the old school of thought and I fear for the next generation in that I beleive that todays guys are probably more technically smart, however they lack the pratical smarts. As was mentioned where is the cloning tool for another Ron...so we can have one in Oz as well ! A special mention to chako who also takes on the role of mentoring robotic students...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So I have now had time to read your post about 5 times and I believe that it is beginning to sink in. I have came up with a few questions and I know with some of them you may feel I am asking you to look into a crystal ball. I am not looking for a positive answer on these, just what you may have found in the past. I am going to have to find training classes to send people to on everything from controls to hydraulics to machining and just wanted your opinion on these things. Obviously from a Plc training point of view since that is what you teach. 1. Who makes a better student (who leaves with a better understanding)? A person who knows just a little about computers but is excellent at troubleshooting machines or a person who is knowledgeable in computers but knows little about troubleshooting machines? 2. Will a student be able to take what he or she has learned in your class and bring it back and share the methods with others or is this something that is not going to click without your personal instruction? Now I am not asking this one to save money, this is more of an issue that we are very strapped for manpower right now. Like I said I am working on several training programs and I am hoping to send different people to different classes to strengthen them in certain areas but I also wish for them to be able to share what they have learned with the others. We are very lean here, we don't have individual mechanical, electrical, and controls departments. We must all work together and be capable of doing all task. Actually I am going to stop here for now. It's late, I'm tired, and if I ask too many questions at one time it will take another 4 days to fully comprehend your reply. Thanks TW

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Greetings TWControls ... you asked a couple of questions ... I'll do my best to answer them ... now there's a "TEE BALL" question just begging to be knocked out of the park ... I'd LOVE to be able to say "no ... without my own secret, special, personal, patented, magical, mystical approach to training, all of your people are doomed to a life of PLC ignorance" ... but we all know better than that ... let me just say this ... we start the class as soon after 8:00 A.M. as the rush-hour traffic will allow ... the only scheduled break is one hour (or less) for lunch ... we go as close to "non-stop" as possible until 5:00 P.M. – or later if we're on a roll ... at the end of each day, I ask the following question: "did we cover anything today that was trivial, useless, or not worth our time?" ... the answer has always been "no, it was ALL good stuff" ... so the point is that the class covers pretty close to 40 hours of continuous "learning-important-things-about-PLCs" material ... now let's just suppose that the first student that you send me happens to be a human "sponge" who can soak up and retain every single nugget of knowledge that we cover throughout the entire five-day class ... my next question is this: how quickly do you think Student-Number-One is going to be able to convey that same amount of useful information to all of your other technicians? ... even with a strong tailwind and a full bowl of Wheaties, the answer can't possibly be anything less than 40 hours ... my point is that even if you COULD use the "one-student-brings-it-all-home" approach, that still might not be the most efficient, economical, and successful way to get all of your people trained ... but ... do NOT simply accept my opinion on this ... (obviously I have plenty of motive for convincing you to send every Tom, Dick, and Harry you have on hand) ... put me to the test ... send me just ONE student to try it out ... make it your hardest-to-impress "Top Gun" ... and if possible, send someone who's already been to other PLC training classes so that he can make a head-to-head comparison ... then have him (or her) come back and give you an unbiased opinion of whether this PLC training is really "DIFFERENT" enough to warrant sending the rest of your crew to take the course or not ... and just in case you were pondering this – but were afraid to ask: I don't have any problem with students using tape recorders in the classroom ... just don't ask me to "slow down" while they change the tape ... or consider this suggestion ... my boss has used the following approach for one or two "I've-got-to-see-it-to-believe-it" customers in the past ... basically you get to send the first student "on approval" ... if you're not impressed, you won't have to ask for your money back – because the boss won't even invoice you ... at least not until you call up to schedule the rest of your people ... then if you want to send more, he'll bill you for the first one - and continue on from there ... finally ... in my opinion this post does not come "close to the advertising line" ... actually it goes far over it ... but since TWControls is a forum administrator - and he's asked these questions on the open forum, I feel duty-bound to answer them in the same way ... but if anyone has any problem with this particular discourse, please rest assured that I would not be offended by having my comments removed ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Question 1 - I think our excellent troubleshooter would be the one. I will just have to make sure that he knows our alphabet (O,I,S,B,T,C,R,N,F - The other letters aren't important) Question 2 - Point taken. I only have time for one right now but nothing says I can't send others later And finally you are correct Ron. We started out as me just observing your link and commenting on it. But since then I have given serious thought to your courses and my last two question probably came very close if they did not push this over the line. It is still generalized questions since I must do training in a broad matter of subjects but you are one of the people in consideration now. We will continue this in private as soon as time permits. Thanks TW

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
After a PM and some thinking I decided to open this topic back up. It was not right to close the topic since there is good information in it and others may wish to get in on the discussion and as Ron some questions. But it is a service that Ron sells so I moved it to the "For Sale or Services Offered"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Happy to see this topic continued. Although I have only glanced at some AB programs - that doesn't matter, not really the subject IMHO. I have some colleagues also entering the PLC world and although I am also still learning every day, I have to teach them sometimes as well on a job. Not always because I have to, but I noticed I like to teach, and sometimes it even helps me put things in perspective. Before I started doing jobs on my own and slowy becoming more independant I learned for a few years, have done some courses but the most I learned is by looking over the shoulder of our own company guru - glad I got the chance. He took me to jobs and I never asked everything at the spot, but observed everything he was doing and let it sink in for a moment. Saved things I didn't understand for future times. Connected field hardware and after wards monitoring along in the ladder. Every once in a while I would ask small details. Never tried to understand all what I saw, just small things at a time. Later after I saw something several times these pieces started falling together. This learned me to observe, and to accept you can't understand things immediately. As a matter of fact, wanting to do so only works against you and destroys the concentration. When teaching/explaining things to my colleagues, I notice myself how difficult it is to teach someone a particular thing, although you fully comprehend it yourself. Interpretation is one of many differences in persons. Thinking I am explaining myself clearly and obviously but then I catch myself taking for granted someone else grasps something with the same ease/difficulty I do or did. Ron, sounds to me your courses are priceless. Hope to attend one someday... In the mean time I will read the contributions in this topic with great interest! Happy teaching

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Better late than never... Ron, thank you so much for your openness and your willingness to share your methods. I work for a small distributor as Inside Applications Engineer. In a company of six, this means I do a lot of different things. But one of the duties is training. We haven't done anything formal as of yet. Again, as a small company, we almost don't have a customer base big enough to fill classes, even small ones. And as a distributor, we aren't intending to make money on the training. We want the training to be more of a resource for our customers. I am in the process of thinking through our training, and found your post very informative. Having attended many training sessions, I can comprehend the value of your methods, and I want to emulate that in my meager way. Though we sell Mitsubishi products, I think it would be worthwhile to attend your training, simply to see the approach in action, and get ideas for my curriculum. Not that I think my boss would want to send me... And I could use that approach on other products! Not just PLCs, but servo systems, VFDs, vision systems... Two questions for you (or anybody listening): 1. Looking at it from a distributor's point of view, would it be better to provide training to the maintenance techs, or the engineers/programmers? We make our money by product sales, so which way would provide us with the best return on our investment? 2. Are there resources available that you have found valuable in developing your methods? If I am to build a curriculum from scratch, I need help! Thanks again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Greetings Jeremy ... first of all, I want to apologize for taking so long to answer your post ... most of that was beyond my control ... but one of the main reasons for the delay was trying to come up with a reasonable way to make my training methods work for the specific project that you outlined ... and, so far, I’m still not sure that my approach is going to do what you want ... it seems (please correct me if I’m wrong) that the intended audience for your new training program will be mostly the “engineering-type” people who originally specify, order, set up, program, and commission a new PLC system ... the students in my classes are invariably the “technician-type” people who come in later and then “maintain” the machinery controlled by the PLC ... there are MAJOR differences in the skills that those two categories of people need ... I’m going to be perfectly honest and tell you “up front” that the training approach that I use for MY “technician-type” students might turn out to be totally unsuitable for YOUR “engineering-type” students ... but since you asked, I’m going to do my best to answer your questions ... naturally you’re free to pick and choose anything (or nothing) to use for your project ... and since this is being posted on a public forum, someone else might find something useful in this in the future ... also ... this has been written “here-and-there” over a period of several days ... I’m sorry if some of it tends to “ramble” quite a bit ... with all of that in mind, here’s what I’ve come up with so far ... based on the way you’ve phrased your question, I’d have to go along with aiming for the “engineer and programmer” category ... there are very few (if any) cases where Technician Ted is going to overrule Engineer Ed when it comes time to select a new PLC system ... so if you’re trying to impress the “money people” and the “decision makers” with your product’s features, then aiming for the engineers and the programmers makes perfect sense ... but be careful ... you need to make sure that any “technician type” students coming to your classes don’t have any misconceptions about the material that the class will cover ... suppose that Technician Ted comes back from one of your “PLC training” classes and complains to one and all about a solid week of nothing but “sales pitches” he had to endure ... in many distributor-level classes the “textbook” is actually the product catalog ... a common topic of conversation is: “Model ABC has 16K of memory – and Model XYZ has 32K” ... now “PLC training classes” like this DO have their place – but you have to make sure that a student who’s expecting to learn about troubleshooting the ladder logic in an existing PLC system doesn’t wander into a “how to select a new PLC” type class by mistake ... incidentally, this is one of the biggest issues that my boss and I face when we’re trying to sell training to a brand new customer ... many (most?) maintenance managers have a whole list of horror stories about sending their technicians off to a distributor’s “PLC training” classes – and having their people return with absolutely ZERO useful knowledge ... when you get right down to it, is it REALLY important for Technician Ted to know how much memory his “Model XYZ” processor has – when the plant’s basic problem is that “Circulation_Pump_A” won’t come on? ... obviously there are different categories of “PLC Training” classes – and one size does NOT “fit all” ... as with just about every other type of purchase, the buyer needs to make sure that he’s getting the appropriate “bang” for his “buck” ... and now I’ll repeat my original disclaimer ... while I’m honored that you’ve found my training methods interesting enough to inquire about them, I’ve tried to be perfectly honest and tell you that my approach might not be suitable for some of the purposes that you’ve mentioned ... specifically, I doubt that a classroom full of engineers would genuinely appreciate my “problem/solution” teaching methods – IF (big IF) their main purpose in attending the class happened to be mastering the differences in memory capacity between “Model ABC” and “Model XYZ” ... in the end, you’re going to have to be the one who decides what your “training classes” are intended to accomplish ... once you’ve done that step, I’d be delighted to continue this discussion – and to provide you with as much assistance as I can to help you get started ... and now here’s one final “let’s-just-think-about-this” idea that you might want to consider ... do you have a “technical college” in your area that might have (or might want) a PLC program? ... if the answer is yes, then you might want to think about “partnering” with the school to develop and set up a program that would be beneficial to them, and to your company, and to local industries, and to the students ... the trick to getting this to work is usually the school’s “industry advisory” committee ... many (most?) tech schools have one ... the idea is that people from local industries volunteer and try to keep the school “on target” with the material being taught ... ideally this means that the students who complete the school’s training programs will be qualified to join the local workforce ... and since a “working” student is a “tax paying” student, the politicians usually take some type of interest in how well the school is doing in turning out qualified workers ... keeping all of this in mind, the idea that I’m proposing here is that you MIGHT (notice that’s a BIG “might”) be able to work with a local tech school in setting up your program ... here are just a few “brainstorming” ideas off the top of my head: (1) the school buys the hardware and software at a reduced rate and sets up the classroom for their curriculum and/or continuing education students ... (2) your company might donate the hardware and software completely free ... (3) part of the deal is that the classroom and equipment is available (with proper scheduling of course) for your company’s use – for the type of “seminar” PLC training we’ve been discussing above ... (4) the school might send their own instructors to your company for training ... (5) the school might hire you personally on an “adjunct faculty” basis to develop the course material and/or do the training for their own students ... (6) local students get to work “hands-on” with the brand of PLC that your company sells ... (7) local industries become more familiar with the products that your company sells ... (8) the school gains prestige from having an up-to-date PLC lab ... if any of this sounds interesting, we can discuss it in more detail later on ... there are a few (minor) things to watch out for ... I’ll be glad to share them if you’re interested ... I hope that some of this helps ... and good luck with your project ... Edited by Ron Beaufort

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Congratulations Ron Beaufort. Now I haven't thoroughly read your post but looks like you have broke the record for the longest post. Of course the previous record was also held by you Previous Record - Held by Ron Beaufort http://forums.mrplc.com/index.php?s=&s...ost&p=36932 Paragraphs 20 Pages 12 Lines 853 Words 5,759 Characters 27,290 New Record - Held by Ron Beaufort also http://forums.mrplc.com/index.php?s=&s...ost&p=44527 Paragraphs 12 Pages 19 Lines 535 Words 5,868 Characters 27,481 Now gives us a few days for it to soak in I promise I'm reading it, it just takes a while TW

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Being the thief I am I like seeing Ron's posts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jeremy, I once held a job a lot like yours, but for a GE Fanuc distributor. I was responsible for developing and conducting the training we offered. I agree 100% with Ron on the subject of charging a reasonable amount for your sessions. If you offer it for free, you will find that your clients don't take it a seriously as you would hope. Furthermore, if it's free, your customers may not make any effort to send students most likely to get something out of what you're offering. No matter how good a teacher you are, effective training demands some effort on the part of the student. A student who is in your class for no other reason than that his boss told him he had to go is not likely to to be paying attention to what you're trying to get across. I used PowerPoint presentations with pretty good success, but I like to think I went above and beyond. I added VB scripts animate my presentations. In my slide of a timer function, I could show the class how the accumulated value increases and what happens when both the enable and reset functions were activated simultaneously. I used the lecture and lab approach that Ron mentions. Keep the lectures as short as possible and spend as much time as possible on the labs. I used two types of labs. The first was what I call "cookbook". That was where I wanted to show how to program (for example) a timer function, what it looks like when you do it right, as well as common mistakes people often make. The second type was where I gave everyone a design specification and told them to come up with a program to control it. For basic ladder logic, I used the example of a simple air compressor system with two pumps feeding a common tank. I defined the switches and lights on the trainer system as presuure switches, start and stop buttons, motor starters, and fault lights. I gave them a set of design criteria and challenged them to meet as many as possible. Just about everyone could get the basic start-the-pump/stop-the-pump from the pressure switch. A few could figure out how to detect a failure of one pump and automatically switch to the other. Some were even able to count ten starts on one pump and then switch over to the other pump for the next ten starts. It allowed the people who came to class with little or no experience to accomplish the simple tasks while providing a bit of a challenge to the students who already knew their way around the PLC. I also provided a sample solution, but I encouraged everyone to come up with their own approach rather than to copy mine. The labs I used were the genesis for the products I sell here on MrPLC.com. http://shopv2.mrplc.com/product_info.php/c.../products_id/52 I also had a troubleshooting lab. I had a set of problems that I could introduce into each trainer setup and then have each team try to figure out what was wrong. They included simple things like blown fuses and broken wires, module terminal strips not fully seated, loss of program, I/O cards inserted into the wrong slot, etc. Basically I tried to put the most frequent problems I had to deal with over the phone into the lab. Be sure to keep your class size small enough so you can give every student enough individual attention to keep them on track. I had four trainers, two students per trainer, max class size of eight students. Ron mentioned the importance of making sure you don't get perceived as taking business away from the factory training. In my case, our factory rep was 100% in favor. We always felt that we were training people who would never get sent to the factory training either because of their job descriptions or because their companies would never spring for the money to send them to the factory. I can't emphasize enough the importance of keeping your audience engaged. I have a couple of tricks I like to use. One is to keep asking questions along the lines of "what do you think will happen if...." To encourage people to actually answer, I will toss a quarter to the person who answers correctly. I will also toss a quarter to the person who asks a question that anticipates the next point I'll be making. Woe to the person who answers incorrectly though. From him I will ask for the return of the quarter. It's amazing how something that cheesy can keep people listening. I'll never forget one session where one particular individual bought into the game. We passed the same quarter back and forth several times. Eventually I caught him in an incorrect answer and instead of tossing the quarter back to me he dumped it in the pitcher of ice water on his table and told me to "come and get it". Feel free to send me a private mesage if you'd like to talk in greater detail about what worked for me. Steve Bailey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0